The Character Ethic is based on the fundamental idea that there are principles that govern human effectiveness—natural laws in the human dimension that are just as real, just as unchanging and unargubly “there” as laws such as gravity are in the physical dimension.*
Stephen R. Covey
There are a thousand ways to get spirituality wrong. It often seems that we are faced with either or options, neither of which ring true in that deepest part of ourselves where The Divine Mystery we call God speaks to us and gives us guidance and strength and courage. Following those extremes, at best, limits us and leaves us restless and longing for something more. At worst following those extremes lead us to isolation, anger, and sometimes to violence. No BS Spirituality (NBS) challenges us to find what the Buddhists call “the middle way” between the extremes that, with careful discernment, leads to spiritual maturity.
It is a primary function of spiritual practice, and dare I say, of all religion to make this sacred inner voice conscious and available to us, and to guide us in the lifelong process of shaping and forming our life in response to that voice.**Richard
- Quiets the inner turmoil of compulsive thoughts, emotions, and impulses that typically drive our lives.
- Guides us to the discovery of who we really are and who we are called to be as unique spiritual persons.
- Facilitates the incarnation of that discovery in the reality of our day to day lives.
Conversion of Heart
No BS Spirituality affirms Conversion of heart as central to the spiritual life. Spirituality that does not actually transform the way we experience and live our active lives is not enough.
NBS facilitates the lifelong process by which we quiet our inner turmoil, discover who we most deeply are and who we are called to be as unique spiritual persons, and how we then shape and form our lives as living expressions of that ongoing discovery. NBS facilitates a Conversion of Heart that profoundly changes our thoughts, our emotions, and our impulses, and the way we experience and respond to the people, events, and things that make up our daily lives. NBS honors The Spirit and at the same time is solidly grounded in the real world of people, events, and things where we live our lives.
No BS Spirituality affirms foundational spiritual imperatives that cut across traditions but which must be implimented uniquely. Spirituality that does not acknowledge these spiritual imperatives and allow for their unique implimentation in our lives is not enough.
No BS insists that there are foundational spiritual imperatives and practices that can be identified in all consonant cultures, and in all consonant religious and secular traditions. These principles must be discovered and incarnated in any consonant spiritual practice. A central aspect of the work of the spiritual journey is discerning how these principles can be incarnated and lived uniquely and personally by each tradition and each individual on the spiritual journey.
Intellect and Experience
No BS Spirituality affirms both the intellect and personal experience. Spirituality that does not open us to all ways of knowing is not enough.
Our intellectual ability to think, analyze, reason, reflect, and understand is an integral part of what it means to be human. Personal experience grounds our intellect in the reality of our day-to-day lives. We must always be open to all ways of knowing and understanding, and to ever new insights, understanding, and experience. Maintaining intellectual integrity, facilitating intellectual development, and being open and attentive to our personal experience are all part of the work of the spiritual journey.
No BS Spirituality affirms the profound Mystery of all creation. Spirituality that does not affirm and encourage that awareness and acceptance of that Mystery and open us to the wonder of not knowing is not enough.
Accepting the profound mysterious nature of much of this great universe, the human epiphany of which each of us is a unique part, and the Divine Presence we call God, calls us to move beyond both our intellect and our personal experience, and to be open to the experience and understanding and guidance that comes from this Mystery. At the same time, this Mystery must be informed by available intellectual knowledge available to us and by our own personal experience. True wisdom requires us to be open to insight from all of the varied sources available to us. It requires us to seek truth in the midst of untruth and dishonesty. Wisdom also requires us to know and be honest about and even to celebrate what we do not and cannot know.
No BS Spirituality affirms faith that emerges from a trust and knowing that comes from a merging of the intellect, experience, and Mystery. Spirituality that requires belief in something that cannot be understood and experienced is not enough.
True faith does not require us to make a decision to believe or to base our lives on anything that violates our understanding or our experience. Real faith is a way of knowing that comes to us when our intellect, our experience, and our sense of Profound Mystery meet, and we know in a way that includes and transcends all three.
No BS Spirituality affirms both religious and secular traditions that guide us toward personal responsibility. Spirituality that either denies the truth found across traditions or does not call us to take personal responsibility for our lives is not enough.
Our religious and our secular traditions connect us with centuries of human understanding and experience developed by individuals and groups that have traveled a similar path before us. Connecting with those traditions grounds us and offers us guidance and support. Taking personal responsibility for our own spiritual lives requires careful discernment of those traditions to discern what is consonant for us personally. Part of the work of the spiritual journey is to balance these two sources of knowledge and understanding.
No BS Spirituality affirms Divine Union as the ultimate goal of the spiritual life. Spirituality that does not affirm and facilitate this awe inspiring goal that calls us back to the world of action is not enough.
Divine Union is the ultimate goal of the spiritual life, yet that union must always lead us back to the real world of people, events, and things. Divine Union ultimately must be understood as being constantly connected to the Divine Mystery we call God so that our every thought, every reaction, and every action is guided by and empowered by that Mystery. The journey toward that Divine Union is a lifelong process, and we can only approximate its reality, but to deny that Divine Union as our deepest and most profound longing is to settle for something far less than our possibility.
* Covey, Stephen R., The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People: Restoring the Character Ethic, (New York: Simon & Schuster, 1989), p. 32.
** Excerpted from Richard’s Book, Choosing Authenticity: Religion is Not Enough, p. 45.